Popular Mechanics

Last updated

Popular Mechanics
Popular Mechanics logo.svg
Popular Mechanics Cover Vol 1 Issue 1 11 January 1902.jpg
Popular Mechanics first cover (January 11, 1902)
Categories Automotive, DIY, Science, Technology
FrequencySix per year
Total circulation
1,208,642 [1]
First issueJanuary 11, 1902;119 years ago (1902-01-11)
Company Hearst
CountryUnited States
Based inNew York City, New York
LanguageEnglish, Russian
Website www.popularmechanics.com OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
ISSN 0032-4558

Popular Mechanics (sometimes PM or PopMech) is a magazine of popular science and technology, featuring automotive, home, outdoor, electronics, science, do-it-yourself, and technology topics. Military topics, aviation and transportation of all types, space, tools and gadgets are commonly featured. [2]


It was founded in 1902 by Henry Haven Windsor, who was the editor and—as owner of the Popular Mechanics Company—the publisher. For decades, the tagline of the monthly magazine was "Written so you can understand it." In 1958, PM was purchased by the Hearst Corporation, now Hearst Communications. [3]

In 2013, the US edition changed from twelve to ten issues per year, and in 2014 the tagline was changed to "How your world works." [4] The magazine added a podcast in recent years, including regular features Most Useful Podcast Ever and How Your World Works. [5]


Cover of April 1924 issue, 25 cents ($3.80 in 2019) PopularMechanicsApril1924.png
Cover of April 1924 issue, 25 cents ($3.80 in 2019)

Popular Mechanics was founded in Chicago by Henry Haven Windsor, with the first issue dated January 11, 1902. His concept was that it would explain "the way the world works" in plain language, with photos and illustrations to aid comprehension. [3] For decades, its tagline was "Written so you can understand it." [6] The magazine was a weekly until September 1902, when it became a monthly. The Popular Mechanics Company was owned by the Windsor family and printed in Chicago until the Hearst Corporation purchased the magazine in 1958. In 1962, the editorial offices moved to New York City. [7]

From the first issue, the magazine featured a large illustration of a technological subject, a look that evolved into the magazine's characteristic full-page, full-color illustration and a small 6.5" x 9.5" trim size beginning with the July, 1911 issue. It maintained the small format until 1975 when it switched the larger standard trim size. Popular Science adopted full-color cover illustrations in 1915, and the look was widely imitated by later technology magazines. [8]

Several international editions were introduced after World War II, starting with a French edition, followed by Spanish in 1947, and Swedish and Danish in 1949. In 2002, the print magazine was being published in English, Chinese, and Spanish and distributed worldwide. [9] South African [10] and Russian editions were introduced that same year.

Notable articles have been contributed by notable people including Guglielmo Marconi, Thomas Edison, Jules Verne, Barney Oldfield, Knute Rockne, Winston Churchill, Charles Kettering, Tom Wolfe and Buzz Aldrin, as well as some US presidents including Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. Comedian and car expert Jay Leno had a regular column, Jay Leno's Garage, starting in March, 1999. [11]


Editors* [12]
Henry Haven WindsorJan 1902 - Jun 1924
Henry Haven Windsor JrJul 1924 - Dec 1958
Roderick GrantJan 1959 - Dec 1960
Clifford HicksJan 1961 - Sep 1962
Don DinwiddieOct 1962 - Sep 1965
Robert CrosleyJul 1966 - Dec 1971
Jim ListonJan 1972 - Dec 1974
John LinkletterJan 1975 - Jun 1985
Joe Oldham [13] Aug 1985 - Sep 2004
Jim Meigs [14] Oct 2004 - April 2014
Ryan D'AgostinoMay 2014 - March 2019
Alexander GeorgeMarch 2019 - April 2021
NoneApril 2021 - Present

*Note that in general, dates are the inclusive issues for which an editor was responsible. For decades, the lead time to go from submission to print was three months, so some of the dates might not correspond exactly with employment dates. As the Popular Mechanics web site has become more dominant and the importance of print issues has declined, editorial changes have more immediate impact.



In June 2020, Popular Mechanics faced widespread criticism for an article that provided detailed instructions on how to vandalize monuments. [17]

In early December 2020, Popular Mechanics published an article titled "Leaked Government Photo Shows ‘Motionless, Cube-Shaped’ UFO." [18] In late December, paranormal claims investigator and fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), Kenny Biddle, investigated the claim in Skeptical Inquirer. Biddle reported that both he and fellow investigator Mick West, also a CSI fellow, easily explained the supposed UFO as a mylar balloon, with Biddle even claiming to have identified the design as a Batman balloon. Biddle, peviously a PopMech fan, wrote in his Popular Misinformation article: [19]

After re-reading the entire Popular Mechanics article, I felt a sense of extreme disappointment with the magazine. It published an article filled with conspiracy theory–like content, and the author failed to spend any time independently verifying the information presented... this balloon-UFO article served the readers a lot of uncritical nonsense rather than any quality information. I am terribly disappointed in the magazine and have no desire to pick up another issue. [19]

Further reading

Related Research Articles

<i>Scientific American</i> American popular science magazine

Scientific American is an American popular science magazine. Many famous scientists, including Albert Einstein, have contributed articles to it. In print since 1845, it is the oldest continuously published monthly magazine in the United States.

UFO conspiracy theories conspiracy theory relating to extraterrestrial creatures or aliens

UFO conspiracy theories argue that various governments, and politicians globally, most especially the officials of Washington, D.C., are suppressing evidence of extraterrestrial unidentified flying objects and alien visitors. Such conspiracy theories usually argue that Earth governments, especially the Government of the United States, are in communication or cooperation with extraterrestrials despite public claims to the contrary, and further that some of these theories claim that the governments are explicitly allowing alien abduction.

<i>Harpers Bazaar</i> American monthly womens fashion magazine

Harper's Bazaar is an American monthly women's fashion magazine. It was first published in New York City on November 2, 1867, as the weekly Harper's Bazar. Harper's Bazaar is published by Hearst and considers itself to be the style resource for "women who are the first to buy the best, from casual to couture". Since its debut in 1867, as the U.S.'s first fashion magazine, its pages have been home to talent such as the founding editor, author and translator Mary Louise Booth, as well as numerous fashion editors, photographers, illustrators and writers.

Roswell incident Supposed flying saucer crash in the U.S., 1947

The Roswell incident refers to the July 1947 crash of a United States Army Air Forces balloon at a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico, as well as the subsequent conspiracy theories that claim the crash was actually that of a flying saucer, and that the truth was covered up by the US government. On July 8, 1947, Roswell Army Air Field issued a press release stating that they had recovered a "flying disc" from a ranch near Roswell. The Army quickly retracted the statement and instead said that the crashed object was merely a conventional weather balloon.

The Skeptics Society is a nonprofit, member-supported organization devoted to promoting scientific skepticism and resisting the spread of pseudoscience, superstition, and irrational beliefs. The Skeptics Society was founded by Michael Shermer as a Los Angeles-area skeptical group to replace the defunct Southern California Skeptics. After the success of its magazine, Skeptic, introduced in early 1992, it became a national and then international organization. The stated mission of Skeptics Society and Skeptic magazine "is the investigation of science and pseudoscience controversies, and the promotion of critical thinking."

<i>Skeptic</i> (U.S. magazine)

Skeptic, colloquially known as Skeptic magazine, is a quarterly science education and science advocacy magazine published internationally by The Skeptics Society, a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting scientific skepticism and resisting the spread of pseudoscience, superstition, and irrational beliefs. Founded by Michael Shermer, founder of the Skeptics Society, the magazine was first published in the spring of 1992 and is published through Millennium Press. Shermer remains the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the magazine and the magazine’s Co-publisher and Art Director is Pat Linse. Other noteworthy members of its editorial board include, or have included, Oxford University evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, Pulitzer Prize-winning scientist Jared Diamond, magician and escape artist turned educator James “The Amazing” Randi, actor, comedian, and Saturday Night Live alumna Julia Sweeney, professional mentalist Mark Edward, science writer Daniel Loxton, Lawrence M. Krauss and Christof Koch. Skeptic has an international circulation with over 50,000 subscriptions and is on newsstands in the U.S. and Canada as well as Europe, Australia, and other countries.

<i>Popular Science</i> American quarterly magazine

Popular Science is an American quarterly magazine carrying popular science content, which refers to articles for the general reader on science and technology subjects. Popular Science has won over 58 awards, including the American Society of Magazine Editors awards for its journalistic excellence in 2003, 2004, and 2019. With roots beginning in 1872, Popular Science has been translated into over 30 languages and is distributed to at least 45 countries.

Black triangle (UFO)

Black triangles are UFOs reported as having a triangular shape and dark color, typically observed at night, described as large, silent, hovering, moving slowly, and displaying pulsating, colored lights.

Dave Thomas (skeptic)

David E. Thomas is a scientist and software engineer best known for his scientific skepticism research and writings. He is a graduate of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and his skeptic work covers the Roswell and Aztec UFO sightings, the Bible code, global warming, the 9/11 Truth movement and chemtrails. Thomas is frequently published in Skeptical Inquirer magazine.

Jerome Clark is an American writer, specializing in unidentified flying objects and other paranormal subjects. He has appeared on ABC News Special Report, Unsolved Mysteries, Sightings and the A&E Network discussing UFOs and other oddities. Clark is also a country and folk music songwriter of note.

<i>Science Digest</i>

Science Digest was a monthly American magazine published by the Hearst Corporation from 1937 through 1988.

Robert Sheaffer American writer

Robert Sheaffer is an American freelance writer and UFO skeptic. He is a paranormal investigator of unidentified flying objects, having researched many sightings and written critiques of the hypothesis that UFOs are alien spacecraft. In addition to UFOs, his writings cover topics such as Christianity, academic feminism, the scientific theory of evolution, and creationism. He is the author of six books.

<i>Debunking 9/11 Myths</i>

Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up to the Facts is a non-fiction book published by Hearst Communications, Inc. on August 15, 2006. The book is based on the article "9/11: Debunking the Myths" in the March 2005 issue of Popular Mechanics and is written by David Dunbar and Brad Reagan, responding to various 9/11 conspiracy theories. The authors interviewed over 300 sources for the book, relying on expert and witness accounts.

<i>Electrician and Mechanic</i>

Electrician and Mechanic was an American science and technology magazine published from 1890 to January 1914 when it merged with Modern Electrics to become Modern Electrics & Mechanics. In July 1914, incorporated with Popular Electricity and the World's Advance and the title became Popular Electricity and Modern Mechanics. The new publisher, Modern Publishing, began a series of magazine mergers and title changes so numerous that librarians began to complain. In October 1915 the title became Popular Science Monthly and the magazine is still published under that name today.

Henry Haven Windsor

Henry Haven Windsor, American author, magazine editor, and publisher, was the founder and first editor of Popular Mechanics. He was succeeded as editor by his son, Henry Haven Windsor, Jr (1898–1965). Windsor also published Cartoons Magazine from 1912 to 1922. Windsor was born in a log cabin in Mitchell, Iowa, the son of Rev. William D. D. Windsor and Harriet Butler (Holmes) Windsor. He attended Iowa College, graduating in 1884. On June 25, 1889, he married Lina B. Jackson in Marengo, Illinois.

Skepter is a popular science magazine of the Dutch skeptical foundation Stichting Skepsis. It describes paranormal or controversial theories and methods from a skeptical perspective.

Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program US government program to investigate UFOs

The Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) was an unclassified but unpublicized investigatory effort funded by the United States Government to study unidentified flying objects (UFOs) or unexplained aerial phenomena (UAP). The program was first made public on December 16, 2017. The program began in 2007, with funding of $22 million over the five years until the available appropriations were ended in 2012. The program began in the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.

Pentagon UFO videos Cockpit instrumentation display videos from US Navy jets, widely publicized as UFOs

The Pentagon UFO videos are selected visual recordings of cockpit instrumentation displays from United States Navy fighter jets based aboard aircraft carriers USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roosevelt in 2004, 2014 and 2015 with additional footage taken by other Navy personnel in 2019. The three grainy, black and white videos, widely characterized as officially documenting UFOs, were the subject of extensive coverage in the media in 2017. The Pentagon later addressed and officially released the first three videos in 2020, and confirmed the provenance of the leaked 2019 videos in two statements made in 2021.


  1. "eCirc for Consumer Magazines". Audit Bureau of Circulations. December 31, 2017. Archived from the original on July 30, 2012. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  2. "Popular Mechanics".
  3. 1 2 Seelhorst, Mary (1992). Wright, John (ed.). Ninety Years of Popular Mechanics. Possible Dreams: Enthusiasm for Technology in America. St. Paul, Minn: Seawell. p. 62.
  4. "The 60-second interview: Ryan D'Agostino, editor-in-chief, Popular Mechanics". Politico.com. October 20, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  5. "Popular Mechanics podcasts".
  6. Whittaker, Wayne (January 1952). "The Story of Popular Mechanics". Popular Mechanics. pp. 127–132, 366–380.
  7. Seelhorst, Mary (October 2002). "In the Driver's Seat". Popular Mechanics: 96.
  8. Seelhorst, Mary (May 2002). "The Art of the Cover: The most memorable covers from the past 100 years and the stories behind them". Popular Mechanics: 94.
  9. Seelhorst, Mary (March 2002). "Zero to 100". Popular Mechanics: 117.
  10. "Popular Mechanics". RamsayMedia.co.za. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  11. Seelhorst, Mary, ed. (2002). The Best of Popular Mechanics, 1902-2002. New York: Hearst Communications. p. 1. ISBN   1-58816-112-9.
  12. Seelhorst, Mary (October 2002). "In the Driver's Seat". Popular Mechanics: 95–97.
  13. Oldham, Joe (September 2004). "Editor's Notes". Popular Mechanics: 8.
  14. "Ryan D'Agostino Named Editor-in-Chief of Popular Mechanics". April 22, 2014. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  15. "National Magazine Awards" . Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  16. "Popular Mechanics News and Updates". Hearst Communications. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  17. "Magazine mocked for how-to guide on taking down statues 'without anyone getting hurt'". Fox News. June 17, 2020. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  18. Daniels, Andrew (December 8, 2020). "Leaked Government Photo Shows 'Motionless, Cube-Shaped' UFO". Popularmechanics.com. PopMech. Archived from the original on January 3, 2021. Retrieved January 3, 2021. The U.S. Intelligence Community has known about the mysterious object for two years. What could it be?
  19. 1 2 Biddle, Kenny (December 29, 2020). "Popular Misinformation". SkepticalInquirer.org. CFI. Archived from the original on January 3, 2021. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  20. "Google and Popular Mechanics". Popular Mechanics. December 10, 2008. Archived from the original on December 31, 2008. Retrieved March 13, 2010.
  21. Ross, James (August 15, 2005). "Google Library Project". Popular Mechanics. Archived from the original on April 22, 2009. Retrieved March 13, 2010.
  22. "Tom Burns (2015)".
  23. Orf, Darren (2013). ""Written So You Can Understand It": The process and people behind creating an issue of Popular Mechanics".Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  24. Darren Orf. "Analysis" (PDF). MO Space. Retrieved September 22, 2016.